Trender Research™

Technology meets people.

Network or "Cloud Computing" Gaming: Should MS, Sony and Nintendo be Worried?

There is a new Online Gaming company that is eliminating the console in the home and replacing it with a hub product they call a "MicroConsole". The company is "OnLive", and its capabilities appear to be targeted at diehard Gamers with the majority of investments placed in the games themselves rather than the consoles that have been fairly high-priced to date. The primary value proposition is eliminating the up-front purchase of pricey consoles, and eliminating the dependency upon them and their potential obsolescence. There also are statements from company principals that as graphics technology upgrades occur over time that the company accommodates them in the computing cloud, and a PC-based version will allow older PCs to play the latest games as long as they can uncompress frames OnLive sends across broadband connections.

The shot over the incumbent player console's bows threatens to shift the current economics of the industry. Along with the hub product, you will also need a complementary controller. The company will be launching its OnLive Game Service later this year, and if any of you are died in the wool gamers, you can sign up for a beta release at OnLive's web site. The all-important question of what will it cost has yet to be answered by the company. OnLive is partnering with EA, Ubisoft, THQ, Epic and other gaming software manufacturers that will enable release of some of their more popular titles.

Most of you Super-Gamers are already asking yourselves the question "how does the quality and latency compare with traditional console-based games?" If demonstrations at this year's Game Developer's Conference are any indication, the ability of OnLive's gaming servers to compress, transport and deliver the already intensive and infamous graphics and interactive capabilities that many high-end games are known for appears to be meeting the challenge. There is, however, some milliseconds of delay that begs the question whether all high-end games can be delivered comparably. Guess it could depend on one's broadband access network. Beginning to look and sound like the next anticipated selling point for fiber access networks like Verizon's FiOS! There actually was a short-lived independent fiber-based access network provider company named OEN - Optical Entertainment Network, I believe was based in Houston , TX, that promoted their network largely for the growing gaming community in their neck of the woods. They closed and sold off their assets, but they actually made some hay by sharing their analysis of gaming users and their usage profiles across their network. Ahead of their time they were.

We look forward to hearing back from any early Trender experimenters and their experience with the beta or eventual commercial product.

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